Here at JaK Wave we are a stickler for home grown talent regarding Japanese and Korean Culture and we are pleased to show our support for a new play that is now out in London called Harajuku Girls.
Set in modern day Tokyo, Francis Turnly’s ‘Harajuku Girls’ tells the story of three young girls who have recently graduated from High School, and whilst waiting for their exam results, all experience the throes of burgeoning adulthood very differently. We follow these girls over a few months seeing how their lives and dreams change thanks to the dark side of the fashionable district of Harajuku, how they tread on the fine line between being independent and taking control of their lives, and being taken advantage of because of their ages, looks and innocence.
I went on one of the press nights to be one of the first to see the play- the Finborough Theatre is actually a small venue above a corner of the road public house that seats probably 40 people in the maximum. As you can expect, a venue of that size has a relative stage, but I was surprised by how well they were able to use the limited set to it’s maximum capacity by creatively using the actors to move props around the stage as part of the storyline, or even getting changed on stage emphasizing the voyeuristic nature of the world we are being shown.
The play and storyline could have quite easily gone down the route where we shown overused Japanese tropes and stereotypes; the pervy businessmen, the stoic father, the cosplay-mad schoolgirls and such, but this was much more. Yes, the stereotypes were there, but only as a layer to a much deeper story- you felt the girls’ anguish as they were struggling to keep a hold of the life they knew and understood. The lives of the older men who felt betrayed by Japanese society, who have to pretend that they are someone else in order to feel better about themselves, and even the parents who lament for the lives that they used to have, but want to do better for the generation following them. The production as a whole would probably work better on a larger stage and, as with most opening nights of performances there were a few technical issues, but nevertheless this is both a beautiful yet harrowing look into the cultures of modern day Japan that you would not see in your typical Anime or Variety shows.
Harajuku Girls will continue it’s run at the Finborough Theatre until the 21st March so you don’t have long to check out a fascinating play on the darker side of Japanese Youth Culture. To buy tickets, visit http://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/productions/2015/harajuku-girls.php